March 14th, 2011

Pushing English as the official language

Those cruel and racist Republicans have introduced a bill to declare English the official language of the US and to require a basic knowledge of it in order to become a citizen (although there would be some exceptions for unusual circumstances).

That such a proposal might be controversial or necessary is strange, because one would think it merely common sense. I have no idea how much support or opposition it has, but no doubt it has at least some of the latter.

But even back when I was a liberal Democrat, I would have supported it. I have never been a fan of multilingualism for the US. Learning English is both a symbolic and a practical aspect of becoming part of this country, and our failure to require it has not done anyone a service, including the would-be immigrants themselves.

85 Responses to “Pushing English as the official language”

  1. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    My 2 cents on this issue (a post I put up in December of 2009):

    A Profound Sadness at the Polling Station

    I just voted today, in the runoff for Mayor of the City of Houston.

    The sadness in the title is because of the sample ballot printed in Vietnamese that was taped to the wall.

    I don’t know if I can adequately describe the disservice this does to the Vietnamese, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway…

  2. Foxfier Says:

    If we didn’t live in a time where not having it would mean the rest of us are forced to accommodate those who don’t care to learn enough to survive, I’d think it was too much.

    Since we do live in such a time, though, it makes sense to make a shared language so we can get over this stupid blank of thinking local gov’ts can have every bloody language on earth provided for.

  3. kolnai Says:

    Unfortunately, we’ve reached a stage in our decline where this bill can only be defined as jingoistic and xenophobic. It doesn’t matter if a majority believes that or not. As soon as the issue heats up, the racial demagogues come out of their upside-down hibernation and suck the blood out of our brains. It can’t pass, it won’t pass, even with a Republican president.

    There’s a book by Adrian Goldsworthy, the don of Roman historians, called “How Rome Fell.” The hidden reason he gives as it emerges from his narrative is that through serial promises – increasingly free or subsidized bread and circus to the people of Rome proper (Commodus, Aurelian), increasing pay to the military (Septimius Severus), patronage and delegation to cronies and lackeys (Severus through Elagabalus), subsidies to barbarians (Macrinus), increasingly stupendous public building projects for the provinces (Aurelian, Diocletian), automatic citizenship grants to all territorial residents (Caracalla), and on and on – through all of these and like promises, a situation arose where keeping the promises meant disaster, and not keeping them meant disaster. The currency went from 90% silver to 3.5% in just under a century – the inflation was disastrous, but all attempts to tighten up meant revolt and usurpation (Gordian III against Maximinus Thrax).

    In other wordsL all told, a stone cold Catch-22.

    When every tender sensibility is invested in every single decision, movement in any direction (except down) is impossible. Rome began to vacillate between chaos (the Severan Age) and brutal dictatorship (Diocletian and the Tetrarchy). Admittedly, all they had was the noble lie of Augustus’s – that the Principate was consistent with Republican tradition – to prevent such catastrophe, whereas we have the tried and true Madisonian Constitution and its corresponding institutions and traditions. We also have the common law deep in our bones. But nothing is clearer than that all of these things are evaporating, just as Augustus’s noble lie did.

    Yikes… um, we were talking about a English bill…

    Lets call the inevitable drama surrounding it a synecdoche of decline and leave it there. Pretty soon no one will have the American wolf by the ears – for we will no longer be wolves, and our representatives will no longer be content with such a tenuous grip.

  4. T Says:

    Foxfire and Neo,

    I agree. I keep thinking back to my grandparents and parents who were multilingual even though it was a time when most immigrants WANTED to learn English rather than be marked as a “foreigner.” Even then, cultural traditions did not disappear, but were important within families and localized communities of immigrants. My point is that English as a requirement does not condemn native traditions to the ash-heap of history, nor does it disparage them. It does, however, become part of the “glue” that binds immigrants to THIS country rather than any other.

  5. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    Having seen decline (not always for the same reason) in civilization after civilization, we must also note that we are different that most previous societies in that we have built into our system a non-violent transfer of power. That doesn’t immunize us from decline but I think it it provides us w/ a heretofore unknown flexibility.

    I, for one, am optimistic for the longer term future of our country (5-8+ years). Yes we exist in troubled times, but when did we not? The Civil War, the First and Second World Wars, The Great depression? All of these could have signaled an end to our way of life. That none of them did has to do with our resilience and flexibility as a people. IMHO we are more likely to evolve than devolve, and we are more likely to continue than cease to exist.

    As Foxfire said above “If we didn’t live in [such] a time . . . [but] since we do . . . .” a requirement to learn English is more a respnse to a multi-cultural over-correction than a keeping of the wolves from the door. The pendulum just keeps on swinging.

  6. kolnai Says:

    T – I hope you’re right.

    As far as troubled times go, my point was that these troubled times are different. The only parallels I can think of are the Civil War and the Sixties, and neither matches well enough for me to feel comfortable concluding that we’ll come out on the other side in one piece.

    Briefly, we got lucky with the Civil War (Lincoln and Sherman), and I think if such an irreconcilable division ever showed up again we’d have no stomach for that sort of butchery and would easily prefer to just go our separate ways. Moreover, the problem today is completely different – it isn’t so much irreconcilable differences as a slow but inexorable slide into generalized dependency. It isn’t whether we will keep slaves, but whether we will BE slaves.

    The Civil War did not resolve that dark question – can a human society prefer the burdens of freedom to the very different burdens of dependency indefinitely? That, after all, was the basic question of the Federalist Papers, #1, and there is no doubt that Publius gave the best possible argument that at least one people – Americans – could. Tocqueville took a dimmer view of the prospects. And when we examine the four pillars of republican liberty he set out (local association, local participation, religion, and virtuous women), it’s at least an open question how sturdy those pillars are.

    Obviously, it remains to be seen who was right, and I don’t claim to be absolutely certain I am – I just lean toward pessimism, because it seems to me Tocqueville’s pillars have been fatally eroded. I don’t think there will be some apocalyptic catastrophe, just a slow, continuous grind into stagnation – very slow, as with Rome. That’s it.

    With respect to the second parallel, the Sixties, my understanding is that we got a Prologue in Heaven to the eventual Paradise Lost.

    Point is, there’s never a shortage Cassandras – I fully understand that, and I am a very reluctant doomsayer. But sometimes the Cassandras are right. A resident of Milan in 284 could have said,

    “Oh we’ve seen troubled times before – Hannibal, the Catilene Conspiracy, the Civil Wars, Caligula, the Marcomanni wars and the Sassanid invasions – but our unique resilience and flexibility as Romans has always allowed us to evolve rather than devolve.”

    And that citizen, at that time, would have been wrong. As succinctly as I can put it, I’ve moved away from optimism because it seems to me that the American mind has become susceptible to the vices that invite decline. That, we have never seen before on such a scale.

    Those are my reasons, but to repeat, and to make sure I’m not misunderstood: I hope you’re right, and there are many perfectly good arguments, some of which you have stated, that you are.

  7. Harry The Extremist Says:

    Press “1” to restore our culture and sovereignty.

  8. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Schools are getting more and more pressure to promote foreign language education. Why not apply the same to immigrants?

  9. texexec Says:

    I agree that a basic knowledge of English should be required to become a U.S. citizen. We all need to communicate with each other and how can that happen if we aren’t speaking the same language? How can one understand the Constitution if one doesn’t speak English?

    I make NO APOLOGIES for thinking that English is the richest language in the Western world in terms of number of words in the language, etc. and should be our official language.

    I have traveled widely and do have respect for other cultures but our system of government is based on Anglo-Saxon traditions and common law. I make no apologies for my concern that a multilinguistic culture here would hurt our way of life.

    In the Western Hemisphere, which countries have been successful? U.S.A. and Canada or Mexico, Central American, and South American countries?

    Admittedly, Canada has had French influence but that has been problematic for that country and its government is based on Anglo-Saxon traditions.

  10. Parker Says:

    I think its a good thing to be bilingual or multilingual. However, it is a matter of personal choice. I favor having signs in our international airports and other points of entry in multiple languages. I have no problem with businesses choosing to do the same. I have a big problem awarding the rights of citizenship to anyone who is not fluent in english. And, all government business must be conducted in english.

    texexec says, “… English is the richest language in the Western world.. ”

    Definitely true, and it is the most adaptive. It never stops changing and growing.

  11. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    Just to clarify, I expecgt that we will emerge on the other side of this, I never said it would be in one piece; in fact, I rather doubt it. It’s like the aftermath of a fight. The winner is rarely untouched. This will leave a mark as it should, perhaps it will purge the most despicable progressive nanny-state programs. We will emerge changed, but I believe (at least as of now) that we will emerged.

    As for your Roman parallel. Your knowledge of Roman history appears to be much deeper than mine. It was my understanding that the Romans survived and expanded not so much because of their adaptability, but they refused to accept defeat at any cost and kept hammering away at the problem until they achieved their goal; a kind of steamroller policy at least in foreign affairs. At the very least, I think we agree that the paradigm of the nanny state delenda est (must be destroyed)!

  12. T Says:

    Parker,

    I agree that multi-lingual is good I am, my wife is and my dtr is tri-lingual. I have no problem with multi-lingual signs at travel hubs such as airports and no problem w/ business conducted in this country in other languages as long as it isn’t mandated by some cockamamie diversity policy. What I do object to is the govt MANDATING that my own native language be treated equivocally in its own country. I want the govt out of my speech, out of my lightbulbs, out of my toilet tank and out of my car.

  13. expat Says:

    English is THE international language, and most people with sense would prefer learning English as a second language than having to read inept translations of other languages or communicate through simultaneous translators. The blame America first crowd sees this as imperialistic, but if you are from a small country, say Denmark, and you want to do business in Thailand, Korea, and Japan, would you rather use English or try to master all three other languages? And then suppose your company sends you to Russia and Latvia after 3 years. You would never get out of language classes.

    If English is good enough for the rest of the world, shouldn’t it be good enough for us?

  14. T Says:

    expat,

    and, of course, English already is the universal language of aviation (shhh! don’t tell the French)’

  15. Tesh Says:

    I have a hard time holding out much hope for this when a fair chunk of native Americans don’t speak or write English correctly.

    Mind you, I support the idea of pushing for English as our only official language… I just don’t see it happening very easily.

  16. Parker Says:

    T,

    I wish the federal government, beyond the DOD, was small enough to fit inside a lightbulb or at least small enough to fit inside a toilet tank. Inside a car is too big for me.

  17. T Says:

    Oh, and Kolnai, if this helps make you feel a little better, just remember as Otto von Bismarck said, God protects children, drunkards and the United States of America.

  18. T Says:

    Parker,

    Touche!

  19. Oblio Says:

    kolnai,

    Superb reading of Goldsworthy. Bravo.

    In his ultimate chapter, Goldsworthy says that there is “A Simple Answer” to the question, “Why did Rome fall?”

    The Late Roman Empire was not designed to be an efficient government, but to keep the emperor in power and to benefit the members of the administration.”

    kolnai, it must be discouraging for you to live behind enemy lines in Academia. Don’t give up. The forces of decadence are not yet stronger than those of productivity. Unless you live in California.

  20. Oblio Says:

    This is another chapter in the continuing saga of the war over Decolonialism/Multiculturalism. More precisely, it is Western Exceptionalism (of which only American Exceptionalism has survived) versus anti-Westernism, which has claimed many Western adherents.

    The King hearings are another chapter.

  21. kolnai Says:

    T – I love that line: “Nanny State Delenda Est.”

    Oblio – Don’t know if you were wink-winking me at the end there, but, alas, I live in California.

    As the yutes say in their intarwebs jargon,

    🙁

  22. Artfldgr Says:

    ah.. chalk it up to stuff i said before…
    that now will start to make a lot more sense…

  23. Oblio Says:

    So I guess we have to save California, too. Hold on kolnai, help is on the way.

  24. Artfldgr Says:

    young upwardly trashy egotist sycophants?
    [yes i saw my cousin vinnie]

  25. Sarah Says:

    I am an immigrant. English is my third language. Honestly, I think the big idiocy in America that conflates culture with race and believes that languages can’t really be learned has to do with the MOST ineffective language teaching system in the WORLD. (Okay, England is a close second.) Part of this being because our (I’m an American now ) schools bought into “total immersion” with the same elan that they bought “whole language” and for the same reason — because the teacher doesn’t have to make the students do anything “boring” or “unpleasant.” Unfortunately those two work about as well. Given a lot of support and grammar on the side, total immersion can kind of work, but frankly, having learned seven languages, the best system is heavy translation for two years and THEN total immersion within the limits of the classroom, coupled with reading works in the language. My kids had issues with French and it seemed to me the teachers were going out of their way NOT to teach them. It was all magazines this and cute movies that. When my son hit his third year of French and thought “socalons” was a valid way of saying “socks” (And we won’t go into grammar) I hauled out my own primer, started with translations. By the end of summer he was reading mysteries published FOR French people. (Maigret.) And honestly, I didn’t even devote that much time to it. (Can’t. I work more than full time.) Anyway, out of the horrible language teaching came this weird belief that it’s doing a violence to people to have them learn English.
    Oh, yeah, and for the record, I fell in love with English when I learned it (14) for the flexibility.

  26. T Says:

    Sarah,

    Conflating race w/ culture isn’t due to idiocy, it’s because it widens the potential use of the race card. I was always taught that there were only 3 races we learned them as Caucasian, Negro and Mongol (today it would be white. black and Asian). There are many more cultures than there are races. By combining the two, the race card can be more widely used. Anti-Hispanic–Racist. Anti Indonesian–Racist Anti-Muslim–Racist. Notice I didn’t include anti-white or anti-Jew. Those don’t count in the liberal pantheon of racism. It is not only a way to demean the “enemy,” it is also to reaffirm the incredible moral superiority of the person who flings the charge.

  27. Sarah Says:

    *Oh, and Kolnai, if this helps make you feel a little better, just remember as Otto von Bismarck said, God protects children, drunkards and the United States of America.*

    I LOVE that saying. I know it was meant in a derogatory way, but I hope Bismarck was right.

  28. Sarah Says:

    T

    Absolutely, and it makes me foam at the mouth. I got in a huge fight with my kid’s classmates in blog, at one time for saying race is not culture!

    If race were culture, we’d all still be living somewhere in the fertile crescent scraping the dirt with stone tools…

  29. T Says:

    Sarah,

    I don’t know if Bismarck was trying to demean the U.S., or if he was just jealous!

    Also, libs dare not distinguish between culture and race. Race is WHAT you are, culture is WHO you are. You have no control over your race, but you can unlearn culture if you choose. If you can unlearn culture, then you can unlearn Sharia law and the hanging of gays. If true, then you must take some responsibility for your culture and your actions. Can’t have that, now, can we? (sarc)

  30. Oblio Says:

    OT, but you have to see this: Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins evaluates the finances of “USA, Inc.”

    http://images.businessweek.com/mz/11/10/1110_mz_49meekerusainc.pdf

    How Fredhjr would have loved it!

  31. T Says:

    Sarah, Amazing isn’t it? Libs willingly excuse and justify the most brutal cultures on earth because that just the way those cultures are, they can’t change (race = culture) and all cultures are equal. Yet Western culture is not equal, and it, alone, should be ashamed of itself for not changing to improve.

    Another thought. Libs love Darwinian evolution; the survival of the fittest. If all cultures are equal, then DARWIN WAS WRONG! Watch their heads explode over that thought.

  32. T Says:

    Oblio,

    How nice of you to remember Fredhjr. He would have added much to these recent discussions.

  33. SteveH Says:

    “”Libs willingly excuse and justify the most brutal cultures on earth because that just the way those cultures are””
    T

    What liberals really want is to make backwardness and dysfunction the new definition of competence. A war on competence in fact sums up liberalism nicely. Sort of like solving the problem of the world’s poor golfers by simply making a high score the desirable result.

  34. T Says:

    SteveH,

    Do you men “a LOW score”?

  35. SteveH Says:

    T, high, as in a 90 is better than a 70. Problem solved and people will actually have to practice at screwing up their swing. A good swing being racist anyway. 🙂

  36. RickZ Says:

    texexec,

    I make NO APOLOGIES for thinking that English is the richest language in the Western world in terms of number of words in the language, etc. and should be our official language.
    —–

    Yep, we constantly steal words from every other language, increasing the library (dictionary?) of our own version of English. Schadenfreude or kamikaze or faux pas are examples of foreign words that we now claim as ours, too. Americans really are language imperialists, and I’m glad for it.

  37. T Says:

    SteveH,

    Thanks, I’m a little dense today. Hard to believe I actually play the game sometimes.

  38. baklava Says:

    Kolnai,

    You bring so much to the discussion. I might’ve said that before….

    My girlfriend’s parents have limited English skills and it really hurts there ability to receive medical care, receive assistance from the state/fed, and interact with businesses in the community.

    They’ve learned a new self-sufficience so to speak that we can’t understand. They accept their reality.

    I believe we need to have the ability to have communication and not have a bulkinization of America – with whole communities unable to interact with America. It creates fear, paranoid people, etc.

  39. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    RickZ Says:

    Yep, we constantly steal words from every other language,

    We don’t “steal” them, but incorporate what is given to us by their speakers.

    A very LOOOONG time ago, I was given a one-year intensive Korean language course at Yale’s Institute of Far Eastern Languages (coutesy of the USAF).

    Korean has a genuine alphabet, whose individual letters are grouped into syllables that look a bit like Chinese characters but are NOT.

    Their alphabet is very phonetic, in that if you hear a word pronounced correctly you will have almost no problem in spelling it (and vice-versa).

    At that time, I thought it a tribute to their ingenuity.

    I didn’t consider that this was possible because they had a very insular society with a minimum of outside influences.

    On the other hand, our language is enriched from every other language on the planet, many of whom use the same Roman alphabet that we do, in in their own unique ways, resulting in the anarchistic mish-mash that we call language, where it is often impossible to understand how a written word is pronounced, or what it means,except through context.

    Outside of a dictatorship forcing NewSpeak upon us, I can think of no cure for that, and in fact, don’t want one.

    A little anarchy makes things much more interesting.

  40. Foxfier Says:

    PIH-
    y’mean, perhaps, “English is the result of Norman men-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids”? ;^p

    One of the things I love about English– German may have a ton of great big long words to mean specific things, but English can go “ooh, I like that word– domo!” and take it, modify it a bit and go with it?

    Hehe, English is a PC. ^.^

  41. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    T–If the Roman approach to problems was a steamroller now, with Obama, we have the Weinermobile.

  42. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    PIH-
    y’mean, perhaps, “English is the result of Norman men-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids”? ;^p

    I mean English is the result of (best attempt at Gary Oldman in “The Professional”) EEEVVVERYONE!!!

    🙂

  43. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    # Foxfier Says:

    Hehe, English is a PC. ^.^

    Indeed it is; Mac users need not apply. 🙂

  44. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    BTW Foxfier (formerly Sailorette): Nice blog. 🙂

  45. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Kolnai–I think that the parallels for us here in the U.S. today with the policies (and results) of the Roman state that led to her decline are striking–the ongoing increase in the size, intrusiveness, and power of the bureaucracy, government, regulation, and corruption, power being leached out of the Legislative branch and appropriated by the Executive, steadily rising prices/inflation, progressive debasement of the currency, wrongheaded immigration and citizenship policies, production moving ever farther from our shores and us becoming consumers rather than makers, unwillingness/inability to defend the “frontier,” a decline in the willingness of indigenous Romans to participate in the system that seasoned and produced such great political and military leaders early on, all sorts of centrifugal trends and forces pulling us apart, a generalized social decadence, etc., etc. are all present here in the U.S., if you will but see and recognize them.

    If we are, indeed,”the New Romans,” we are failing just as they did, the difference being that their long decline was spread out over close to a thousand years of ups and downs, whereas our “decline and fall” and perhaps implosion/disintegration will have been spread out over less than 250 years so far, and will then conclude in perhaps another few decades, unless we undergo a dramatic and pretty thorough renaissance, reformation, and reorientation.

  46. T Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    You exhibit the same pessimism as Kolnai; this is not unjustified given current sircumstances. Keep in mind, though, that we humans always tend to see short term events as if they were long term trends. Are these? I don’t know. Perhaps they sit on the cusp where they can go either way (long or short term).

    I am guardedly optimistic. The Tea party and individuals like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Scott Walker and Chris Christie did not spring from the mind of Zeus, and the fact that they have all become prominent at virtually the same time in history could be an omen.

    As I said before, if we do emerge, we will not do so unscathed. Good, we shouldn’t. As Vinnie said “I’ll be very honest with ya, I could use a good ass-kickin’.” We have certainly earned it.

  47. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    I must admit that on the issue of English, the Left–and I do think it was the Left who lead the charge against teaching English as our national language as part of their generalized undermining, subversion and/or destruction operation, their “long march through the institutions/culture” targeting all the building blocks of our “bourgeois” societies via Postmodernism—that very successfully attacked one of the fundamental cleavage points in our society, the educational system, and its key role in the instruction in the English language, and in inculcating American history, values, and culture, all of which knowledge and common background was such a cohesive and unifying glue in earlier generations here in America.

    By emphasizing each separate ethnic group and language, by hyping “ethnic pride” and chauvinism, by Balkanizing us, the Left had left us much more disunited, weakened, and vulnerable to their attacks—and every other attack from within and without–than we were in the past.

  48. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Kolnai–I note that while the Western Roman Empire fell the Eastern Roman Empire(the Byzantine Empire) stood for quite a bit longer, until its was so fatally weakened that it was finally overwhelmed by the fanatical armies of Islam.

  49. Foxfier Says:

    PIH- love your #1 quote. ^.^

    T-
    Agreement!
    no-one gets out alive; none who live go unharmed. That said, what good does assuming we’re fated to fall do, especially when (though we occupy a similar position) our philosophy is so different from that of the Romans?

    Just gotta keep the faith, mon. *laughs*

  50. T Says:

    First, it should be “circumstances” in the above post. I can spell, really.

    Foxfier,

    I think that assuming we’re fated to fall helps us to be on guard against it. Being on guard at least might help us forestall it. The worst case is to assume it can’t happen and to be oblivious to it when it does occur, as per our liberal opposition and their willing disbelief in our debt crisis.

  51. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    As an addendum to my post above about Byzantium, I note that, unlike some of the Romans we might have realized in time that “eternal Rome” was finally going to actually and irrevocably fall, and might have been able to retreat–had they the means–to the Eastern Roman Empire, we have no such fallback position available to us, no other equivalent of our “American Empire” elsewhere on our planet to flee to.

    Land-rich, expansive Canada, our “biggest trading partner” and critically dependent on us (though they hate admitting it and won’t) in which hardly anyone lives more than a hundred miles from their border with us, and the rest is basically ice, Inuits, and black flies, pah! Small in size, increasingly stuffed to the gills England (and perhaps Wales and Scotland) –perhaps the UK might have been a candidate in the years immediately following WWII, but now–barring an enormous and quite bloody evolution/revolution against the encroaching hordes of Islam-the bankrupt, Socialist nanny state that the UK has become seems a hopeless case, and the rest of Europe is even worse.

    Or how about Mexico or the glorious, mostly “banana republics” and various dictatorships/failed states of Central and South America? Not in a million years. Africa? Are you kidding? Totalitarian China and the other more or less alien societies of East and South East Asia? India–billed as the “largest democracy” on Earth? No, and no again. Any of the islands in the Pacific or even the Caribbean? Not likely.

    Of what might still might be very charitably called “Christendom”–although this designation is almost entirely antique and irrelevant in our “Post-Christian” age (not that Islam sees it that way, an unbeliever is an unbeliever, whatever form his “unbelief’ might take)–this leaves just far off the beaten path New Zealand and Australia–the current destinations for immigration, along with Spain, France, Canada, and the US. for the increasing flood of Britons who are fleeing England.

    Beautiful and expensive NZ is also a Socialist nanny state and more sheep than people. Australia is also Socialist and PC, but to a lesser degree, but they have their own problems brewing with Islam.

    So, we had better not fall.

  52. T Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    I enjoy your inclusion ofByzantium in the mix. Had forgotten about the Eastern Empire (my God, how can one forget about the Eastern Empire??).

    As I noted above, we have a greater ability to evolve through the non-violent transfer of power. We can debate at any time whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, but unlike previous societies, we also have the option of changing the shape of the glass.

  53. Foxfier Says:

    We’re also effectively “smaller” in terms of how long it takes to get things from A to B– especially information, but force, aid and supplies, too.

  54. T Says:

    Foxfier,

    i agree. You mad eme realize, though, that we are different fromt he Roman Empire in another way. the Roman expansion was a growth across Europe that subsumed the cultures it encountered. The U.S., on the other hand expands (at least now) not territorially, but by drawing in people from other locations. And not just for trading purposes (“Come to Rome to sell your grain.”), these people come to this country with the INTENTION of living and working here and becoming citizens.

    In some respects, that is the antithesis of Rome.

  55. Mel Williams Says:

    I recently talked to my office mate, who just came back to California after a visit with her mother in Germany. I asked her about her old home town.

    She said that it’s not longer the town she grew up in. It used to be all Germans, and now it’s a mixture of peoples, the largest minorty being Turk. This lady is a multi-culturalist type and thinks it’s great (and she loves her multi-everything Davis, CA).

    Back to the point – she did mention that members of one family were being sent back to Turkey because they didn’t pass the German language proficiency test.

    I applaud Germany for that. But it shows, perhaps, that proficiency in German does not a German make, since Germany has their own minority problems. But perhaps the problems are less severe due to this language requirement.

  56. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    T-Having worked on Capitol Hill for almost 30 years, dealing with things governmental, military, and historical, I have given some thought to the “peaceful transfer of power” that is pretty much unique to the West, and particularly to the “peaceful” and usually relatively uneventful transfer here in the U.S.—Al Gore not to the contrary–that you have mentioned, and I am not so sanguine as you. Nothing stays the same, or lasts forever, or can be taken for granted. As Heraclitus remarked almost 2,700 years ago, “things change”; people change, situations and nations, institutions and expectations change, perceptions change, or can be warped and even shattered.

    Reading history, it strikes me just how “exceptional” we are in our political institutions and traditions, but it also strikes me how much of our “exceptionalism,” of our “peaceful transfer of power,” our democratic Republic, and our government itself–more than laws– is really just a set of uniquely American traditions, values, expectations, and boundaries guiding human action. But what happens if those holding ultimate power decide to disobey, to ignore that law, or to break those traditions and expectations? Who has the power to, or the will, or can really take the steps to stop or punish them, and to set things right again? Our exceptionalism and the peaceful transfer of power that makes up a part of it is mostly a state of mind, of traditions and expectations; and minds can change and boundaries can be overstepped, or even erased, as they were increasingly in ancient Rome.

    Who would have thought just a few short years ago of a Congress passing thousand or two thousand page bills in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, bills of enormous complexity and effect, that had not only not been thoroughly analyzed and debated but had not and could not have even been read once through in the time remaining before the vote, with some members of Congress even boasting about this procedure, of a 1,200 page bill given to the minority party for examination less than 24 hours before the up or down vote on it, only to be followed by a 300 page “managers amendment” that changed it who knows how, delivered to them just a few hours before that vote? Who would have thought of Congress not even passing a 13 major appropriation Budget as it has always done before, but of “deeming” one passed, or of a President publically and repeatedly vowing “on the record” to put proposed major legislation up on the Web for several days before the vote, so that it could be looked at by citizens, and then completely reneging on his promise, and not being asked a series of pointed and persistent questions by the MSM about his lie to the American people?

    Who would have thought a few short years ago of a President with essentially no real qualifications for the job, and about whom we really know nothing for certain getting elected? Who would have thought of an Attorney General who happened to be Black brazenly telling the country that he would not prosecute a case like the Black Panther case and who, when criticized, said that he would now allow criticism of “my People”? Who would have thought of a Department of Homeland Security and Army—charged with our security–whose reports on a murderous terrorist attack by a Muslim shouting “Allahu Akbar,” an obvious Muslim terrorist attack that killed 13 and wounded 30 of our soldiers on our soil, would term it a “workplace incident,” or that the Times Square Bomber’s attempt at terrorism would be called a “man caused accident,” with not even once mention of the words Islam, Muslim, or Jihad in these reports? Who would have thought of a President appointing 35 or so extra-Constitutional Czars without any consultation or vetting by Congress, and/or by recess appointments that circumvented Congressional oversight, one of whom, “Science Advisor” John Holdren, wrote in the past that he thought it would be quite acceptable if the government secretly lowered the number of children born/sterilized the population by spiking our water supplies, and that he favored—and still apparently favors–the “de-industrialization” of the United States?

    Thus, our peaceful transfers of power occur—it seems to me—only because the people involved stay within the lines and obey tradition, but they don’t have to, and if they are malevolent, audacious, and power hungry enough, they won’t.

  57. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    It should have been: Attorney General…would not allow criticism of”my People.”

  58. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    P.S.–It was for the very purpose of preventing an alien, non-native Chief Executive from coming to power who might not have an intimate and deep knowledge of and love and respect for our people and our culture, our history, tradiitions, expectations, and boundaries, a chief Executive who might have weak or divided loyalties to us and our country, who might lack a strong respect, love for, and loyalty to the United States, to her Constitution, and to our democratic Republican form of government that our Founding Fathers very deliberately placed the filtering mechanism of the “natural born citizen” requirement in our Constitution.

    We have increasingly seen what ignoring and not enforcing that requirement has brought us.

  59. T Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    I don’t disagree about these things. Please forgive that haven’t the time to find historical counters to each of your contemporary points, so I will speak mostly from unsubstantiated opinion save these two instances: 1) who would ever expect the wholesale voter fraud of having a bearded man vote and then shave his beard and vote again, and then shave his moustache and vote yet a third time (early 19th century New York); 2) who would have ever suspected an actor would assassinate a president while screaming “sic semper tyrannis!”as he jumped to the stage?

    Human nature hasn’t changed. Our nation was founded under duress. We had to fight the British then we had acerbic negotiations with slave-holding states just to create our constitutional charter. Then, negotiations aside, we had to fight the slave states at war anyway. The list goes on.

    I recognize that what you offer is true. What I offer is that this is nothing new; I’m absolutely convinced from my limited knowledge of govt process and my greater knowledge of human nature that there’s nothing new under the sun here. Remember, there are two things one never wants to see being made, sausage and legislation, and that aphorism is 100 years old. Where did that come from 100 years ago? Certainly not a process of rational intellectual debate.

    I offer that the govt machinations of today are hardly different than they were 100 or 200 years ago. Earlier bills were shorter because they had to be hand written and no one wanted to write 2000 pages, nor did the legislative process have the time for that. I think the big difference is that we know more ABOUT the machinations of govt today due to the constant (and sometimes invasive) 24/7 media. I think the 24/7 news cycle is good for our country, but it’s like being in an artillery bombardment. What is commonplace to a battle-hardened veteran scares the Hell out of the new recruit. In this new information age, we’re so deluged by information, some of which is so distasteful (sausage and legislation, remember?), it’s important to remember that WE are the recruits.

    It’s scary as Hell, but it;s always BEEN scary as Hell, we just didn’t have the opportunity to notice before.

  60. Foxfier Says:

    Part of what’s odd about America is that we’ll violently oppose someone that tries to get rid of the peaceful transfer of power.

  61. kolnai Says:

    Re: T, Wolla Dalbo –

    Lots of good sense in what you both say, and indeed I agree with most of it. I’ll just add a few things and clarify some others.

    First, my comparison with Rome isn’t intended to indicate a thoroughgoing sameness in our social/political arrangements, but simply to note that, granting the persistence of human nature and the way power functions, typical consequences can reasonably be said to follow from typical antecedents. The extent of our similarities is an interesting question nonetheless, and in lieu of writing an essay, I’ll just recommend Thomas Madden’s excellent “Empires of Trust,” and Carl J. Richards’ “Why We’re All Romans.” Suffice it to say there’s a lot of there there.

    But in general we can take or leave the comparison; one could draw the same conclusions as I have simply from thinking through what happens when human nature exists in certain conditions – Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics, even Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy,” will do just fine.

    On those lines, a few (controversial) observations: To my mind, it appears that the left in this country is rapidly revealing its true colors – above all, that dark hue that signals that it couldn’t care less about our traditions, our Constitution, our institutions, or nearly any of the “rules of the game.” The reason why the peaceful transfer of power that T emphasizes (rightly) works is because, and only because, we agree as a people to not set any idee fixe above the workings of the machinery of the Constitution. We agree to always have at least TWO fundamental principles: 1) Our particular cause, 2) the Constitution. Once 2) gets lopped off, as I think the left is in the process of completing, it’s a whole new ball game.

    That’s the first observation. The second is what I was indicating by noting the catch-22 of what I’ll just christen the Promissory Society. Abe Greenwald had a terrific post at Contentions this morning, and I’ll quote it at length because it captures exactly what I was getting at:

    “Hysteria on the largest scale possible has become the default official response to all crises. A lay public furnished with near-instantaneous media coverage can be counted on to demand immediate and absolute measures so that the crisis can be scrubbed from consciousness, however crudely or illogically. And over-monitored leaders will be sure to comply. Today a politician can lose his job if he doesn’t swiftly change historical precedent to fit the frenzied misinterpretation of a still-breaking news story. This will continue to yield atrocious consequences.

    “We have become accustomed to seeing collective shock elevated to the realm of policy. In fact, it’s what we expect of responsible leadership. There’s an oil spill? Ban drilling. A shooting? Forbid even speaking in martial metaphors. A nuclear accident? Kill nuclear energy. This crude emotionalism is actually liberalism at warp speed. It demands that governments alleviate the immediate discomfort of the onlooker without regard for accuracy or consequence. It will produce many more historic disasters than it can manage.”

    Now, I maintain that the key phrase in those passages is “This is actually liberalism at warp speed.” Notice that Greenwald isn’t just talking about the left. He’s talking about us, the people, and our representatives, and our media, and our culture, all wrapped up into one insidious Indra’s web of delusion.

    I think what’s emerging from this very fruitful discussion between myself and T is that our different readings of the chicken entrails hinges on how continuous we think the American present is with the American past. And, to put it crisply, I don’t agree with T that the main difference between now and then is a cosmetic one – viz., that media and other technological factors have merely made us more attentive and aware of certain issues and/or problems. Firstly, that is, as Greenwald noted, a big part of what fuels the pernicious cycle of hysteria – irrational demand – irrational policy. Secondly, as the Federalist Papers stressed time and again, the most perilous threat a republic faces is majority tyranny, and the most significant difference – the difference that makes all the difference – between now and any other time in our history, is that presently the conditions for majority tyranny are firmly in place. Majority tyranny itself already exists in several states – California most obviously. I grant that it does not yet exist on a national level, but it is close, and, as I see it, probably beyond the tipping point.

    Apologies for carrying on so long, but we’re really touching where the tooth hurts with this discussion. You may have discerned the subtext of what I’m saying here. If the Promissory Society is, as Greenwald says, “liberalism at warp speed,” and the average citizen, conservative or liberal, is generally in favor of preserving or extending the Promises, and, further, one significant minority (the hard left) is willing to sabotage the rules of the game to ensure that the Promises keep coming, then majority tyranny beckons, Madison’s nightmare comes true, and, to provocatively conclude,

    “We are all liberals now.”

    I will say, however, that I do not believe this is inevitable – just more likely than the alternative. It all hangs on the Tea Party and how effective they can be, outsmarting and outmuscling an unscrupulous left without resorting to system-burying sabotage.

  62. kolnai Says:

    P.S. – I’m happy that T is out there, by the way – if everyone thought like me, with my almost cliched “conservative pessimism,” we might be even worse off. It is good to have a minority within any group that “worst cases” the outlook, if for no other reason than, as T noted, it keeps the majority from becoming Polyannish and complacent.

    Anyway, T acknowledged the value of my position, so I figured I should reciprocate the gesture (sincerely). After all, we don’t disagree on principles (as T marvelously put it, “Nanny State delenda est”). And we agree that the future is NOT so bright that we gotta wear shades.

  63. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    Thanks for your response. I agree, I think that for both of us this discussion is helping to sharpen our logic. Also a note of thanks to Neoneocon who catalyzed this entire discussion with a post on English as the national language.

    I’d like to address a point that is almost lost “in the fray.” because I really think that we are closer in our beliefs than we realize (as you imply in the last sentence of your last post).

    Walter Russel Mead has written a number of posts on what he calls the “failure of the blue [social state] model.” I suspect that we are seeing this model in it’s death throes, and thus the the viciousness of attacks from the left.

    If it’s a win or lose proposition the alternatives are two: 1) That the blue social model wins a Phyrric victory that leads to the eventual bankruptcy of our country and the end of our lifestyle as it has been; or 2) Conversely, the Tea Party wins and it’s a continuation along our set (prior) path.

    I think that there is a 3rd alternative in this conflict of the End of Blue Social Model Days; to use the glass half full, half empty metaphor, we are in the process of re-shaping the glass.

    In his recent post Walter Russel Mead writes:

    “. . . one can no more expect anybody to produce a map of our future world than Queen Isabella could have asked Christopher Columbus for a detailed map of the Americas before sending him on his first voyage. Whatever the future looks like . . . . It’s about deploying America’s greatest social and cultural strengths to keep this country on the cutting edge of human progress.”

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/03/15/a-red-dixiecrat-dawn/

    This returns me to my original assertion that we, as Americans, will survive and even find a way to thrive in this “new glass”, because just as our immigrant ancestors, we are risk-takers willing to take that first voyage. It is in our DNA. This is also why I believe the blue social model is doomed to a not immediate death, but a death nonetheless; the avant-garde left has become the defender of a failed nostalgic past, and Americans are beginning to take note. We are risk takers, like Columbus, and this crisis is our departure from Spain.

    The US has the the largest concentration of the most benevolent citizens that any civilization (western or otherwise) has ever produced. Watch Japan. In the midst of our own disaster, a recession and high unemployment, Americans will be THE most generous nation in time, money and resources to help our erstwhile enemies recover from their disaster. It is that spiirit and that resilience which will lead us through this crisis of our own.

  64. kolnai Says:

    T-

    We really ARE on the same page – I’ve been intermittently plugging Mead’s masterful blog the comments section here myself. Thus, it’s not a shock that I agree with you on the main points.

    And there are days where I agree with your statement about our “DNA” – out of a week, it’s about two and a half days. But you keep orating, Cicero-like, to me about the glorious essence of the republic and my optimism quotient might increase to three days, perhaps even three-and-a-quarter. (No mean achievement, that).

    But as we’re obviously having a speculative discussion, the evidence will have to supply the last bit to get me optimistic a majority of the time.

    Nonetheless, to return to your point, I said sometime last week or the week before that I believed a serious 2012 GOP contender would have to be able to articulate a new vision of the future as both innovative and continuous with tradition (just like Obama did, and McCain did not – hence the result), except rooted in the right principles. My suggestion for a gold-mind for the kind of rhetoric that could help in articulating that vision was Mead, plus a salting of Econlog’s Arnold Kling (who has a notion that compliments Mead’s model, but fills out more exactly its economic core, namely “Patterns of Sustainable Specialization and Trade,” or PSST for short).

    Thanks for your time in replying to me, and like you said, thanks to the proprietress Herself for sparking the discussion and building a home for smart, spirited patriots to chew some serious fat.

  65. kolnai Says:

    Sorry, I can’t resist one more observation: I’m pretty sure Mead is a Democrat. A very, very moderate one (like Barry Rubin, incidentally, another giant in my opinion), but still, by no means a rock-ribbed conservative or libertarian.

    Oh, irony!

  66. kolnai Says:

    And that should be “gold mine,” not “gold mind.” Not, however, an infelicitous Freudian slip.

  67. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    In the context of my assertion above, that there really are no good “fallback positions,” no Eastern Roman Empires that we can flee to if America fails and falls, I am always amazed by those Americans on shows like “International House Hunters” who “retire,” or “relocate” to, or even go whole hog and pick up stakes and permanently “immigrate” to, some warm, tropical, low pressure, often low cost Paradise–usually in Mexico!, Central or South America, or the Caribbean; amazed because of just how sketchy and uncertain things that one would think would be vital to you are, especially if you are of “retirement age.”

    Quite often—especially in Mexico, and Central and South America–the poor and tattered looking locals—always described as “friendly”—are shown in nearby towns that are usually very small, are primitive, and ratty looking, and that have gravel or oftentimes dirt roads, or even just jungle pathways that are often washed out and impassible, in bad repair or no repair, leading to them. Which is all well and good, and very “atmospheric and romantic,” until you need quick and up to date, competent medical care and pharmaceuticals, a safe place to deposit and then be sure you can withdraw your money, need to get somewhere quickly in an emergency, or need to have reliable electrical, telephone/cell, or Internet service.

    Almost never mentioned, I notice, is the political system of the country involved, unless to say that “things are just fine here,” and “no worries, mate” but, what happens if the local Police Chief, El Jefe, or politician decides he wants something that you have, or that you need to pay him a little protection money in order to continue to enjoy your Paradise in good health, what happens if the government mutates or is effectively overthrown, and the new Maximum Leader is not so friendly to Gringos? What happens if the “local police” are more like the local “death squad,” or if some equivalent of the “Shining Path” guerrillas come to call at your new vacation villa stuck out in the middle of nowhere ,with a great view of the beach? “Who you gonna call,” and will they answer, and what—if anything—will they or can they do?

    So, great places—perhaps–for a vacation, but not places to settle in permanently. And, as for Mexico as a destination, in view of the increasing bloodshed and anarchy engulfing what now must be recognized is a “failed state,” I am surprised they even try to sell the idea of setting up shop there. There is “adventure,” and, then, there is real stupidity, or even suicidal risk taking.

  68. T Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    You are absolutely correct. Can’t argue with the fact that our culture lulls us into a false sense of security.

  69. Oblio Says:

    Mead is in an especially inventive phase. His mind tells him that Liberalism 3.0 is doomed, but his heart won’t let him believe it. The poor man probably has no choice: a fifty-eight year old Yalie from South Carolina, he was deeply marked by the time in which he grew up. He graduated from Groton in 1969. When he was 22, [hyperbole alert] NO ONE was a Republican, anywhere, and no one like him from the South could ever be a Republican in in Northeastern Academia.

  70. Oblio Says:

    Kolnai, did you ever think of giving up the academic ratrace? You could probably earn your living doing something else.

  71. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    Just an aside. I think we are opposite sides of the same coin. We agree on where our culture/society is and probably on what must be done to resolve the situation. We simply see different results as more likely outcomes. As you point out we’re both reading the same chicken entrails (loved that parallel) and neither of us, as Mead writes, can draw the map of this new world until the ship at least approaches the shore.

    You say our interpretations hinge on how continuous we expect the American past/present to be. Allow me to refine that. I think we’re speaking of two different pasts, the recent and the more distant. In a worst case scenario the more recent past in which we have become lulled into the stupor of the promissory state becomes the new fundamental benchmark. In a best case scenario, the more distant past of pioneering risk-takers becomes at least part of the new benchmark.

    Follow the Ann Althouse blog intermittently (www.blogspot.althouse.com) she is a Prof. of Law at UW Madison, and she works hard to remain objective. She admits to voting for Obama, but lately admits her disappointment. Some Democrats, themselves, are beginning to complain about the lack of executive leadership as the White House reveals itself to be a one-trick pony. These are but two markers. Americans are starting to notice, but of course there’s no guaranteed outcome. We live in very interesting times!

  72. kolnai Says:

    Oblio –

    Oh, do I ever think about it! But the decision is harder than it might seem, given my skill set and the market for folks like me.

    What did you have in mind?

    T – I accept your refining of my statement of the issue, and I agree with how you framed it. There’s nothing for me to add to it, except to reiterate that w/r/t your last paragraph, I hope with all of my heart that you’re right about what the “markers” signify.

  73. Oblio Says:

    Kolnai, I have a lot of ideas. How to proceed?

  74. T Says:

    Oblio,

    A suggestion. Ask Neoneocon via email if she would be willing to fwd a short email from you to kolnai. If so you can include or exclude your own email address and if kolnai would like to respond, he could do so.

  75. kolnai Says:

    Well, Oblio, I should say in the first place that for 99.5/100 tasks I’m as useless as…what do they say?…”tits on a bull.” I can barely boil an egg, much less do what so many commenters on this site have been doing their whole lives – productive things like being engineers (I’m in awe of engineers).

    Let me put it very frankly like this: I’m exactly the kind of person most conservatives look on with suspicion, except for one thing, namely, that I’m a blood-and-guts conservative. Other than that, I’m an intellectual through and through, to my core. If I can put that to use for some cause that I value, all the better. But mostly what guys in DC are looking for is lawyers, or business or industry insiders, and I’m as far from being any of that as can be.

    Thus, my calculation that led me into academia was based on a realistic assessment of what I’m good at – for all intents and purposes, being an egghead. I majored and mastered in philosophy, and I’m presently an ABD (All But Dissertation) PhD candidate in political science. So, basically, when one has dedicated that much of one’s life to “book learning” and writing for an academic audience in subjects as arcane as medieval philosophy and some areas of political science, it’s the kind of investment that’s hard to throw away, especially if, as is true for me, I love what I do.

    And yet… “What I do” need not be done in academia – I certainly have considered a few other options, such as heading off to a think tank or joining the staff of a politician (I seriously considered trying to get on board with Rubio or Allen West, since I’m from Florida and I love my guys), perhaps as a speech writer, perhaps as a debate-prepper, perhaps as a wonk. But every time those thoughts come up, another thought arises: “I’m not a wonk,” and I don’t know if I have the particular cut of jib necessary to be useful for any political purpose.

    Maybe you’re thinking “Why politics? Why not something else?,” and my answer is, again frankly, that I probably would be terrible at anything else. I once tried working in the business world doing appraisals, but I quit after a year and went back to school. I hated it, and besides, I was no good at it. Take away the relevance of my book learning and my “academic” skill set, and I’m nothing.

    (Just to be clear, I’m not saying anyone who lacks book learning is “nothing” – I’m merely making a statement that anyone can identify with, which is that when you know you’re good at something, you naturally long to do it. And when you do it for long enough, it gets bound up with your identity. Choose a path, as it were, and other paths rapidly disappear as viable options.)

    All of which I forward just to mark my thinking on why it’s been prudent for me to stay in academia thus far. What I like about academia is purely selfish – it pays me, or will eventually, to do what I love. Everything else – and I do mean everything, the culture, many if not most of the people, the prejudices, the bureaucracy, the feudal institutional structure, the arrogance, the presumption, the smugness, ad nauseum – I loathe.

    Hence, it is self-interest, and self-interest alone, that keeps me here. My other options never seemed all that plentiful to me, so when you say you have “lots of ideas,” my eyebrows raise. Arty-farty types like myself have a lot of ideas about options when we’re younger, but a rapid succession of failures and brick wall-head-bashing disabuses us in a few years flat. We’re left with a mountain of debt and no marketable skills. We don’t even have to choose academia, for we’re locked into anyway. That, anyway, has been my experience.

  76. kolnai Says:

    P.S. – apologies to all for the autobiography, but I assume no one except T and oblio are reading this thread anymore –

    And yes, T’s suggestion is fine with me – I give neo permission.

  77. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    I am a former univ prof in the History of Art with a specialization in medieval manuscript painting (wanna talk unmarketable?). I, too loved what I did, but I also love what I do. I can’t suggest what you should do, but I’m living proof that options exist.

  78. kolnai Says:

    T –

    I’m certainly open to ideas.

    Funny you should mention medieval art, I just finished reading Panofsky’s “Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism” and Michael Clanchy’s “From Memory to Written Record” (the subject is distantly relevant to what I’m considering doing my dissertation on).

    In any case: Wow… medieval manuscript painting. It must be a sign of my geekiness that that sounds very interesting to me. Back when I was a classicist-oriented philosophy grad student I briefly studied Greek vases and spent a year translating Plato’s Symposium, but never got much farther than that. Did you specialize in any particular period (early, high, late, etc.)?

    I love that we began by talking about an English-only bill, sauntered through the Fall of Rome and its relation to current and past America, and arrived at medieval manuscript painting. That in a nutshell is why neo’s site is the saltshaker of the earth.

    Mind if I ask what you wound up doing after leaving the University?

  79. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    Email on the way via neoneocon (I hope).

    Dissertation on an 11th century mss family illustrating the evolution from late-Carolingian ptg to a full-fledged Romanesque style.

    Master’s theses on the philological origin of the Hell-mouth in medieval art.

    Fun stuff, love to have the chance to discuss it.(Good God, for your own sake don’t get me started!)

    Now, financial services (can detail by email).

    Will save autobiography for email, happy to help if I can.

  80. T Says:

    Kolnai,

    “Wow… medieval manuscript painting. It must be a sign of my geekiness that that sounds very interesting . . . .”

    Must be a sign of MY geekiness that I DID it!

  81. kolnai Says:

    T –

    Utterly fascinating! I’m guessing neo is attending to things and will get around to forwarding your email sometime today. I’ll be sure to respond so you’ll know I received it.

    I really would like to hear the story of how in the world you went from art history to financial services. I’ll wait for the email, however, to pester you with questions.

    And P.S. – your dissertation sounds amazing, no fooling. I’m JUST starting to learn these styles in medieval art (mostly from Panofsky), so I know JUST enough for “…the evolution of late Carolingian painting to a full-fledged Romanesque style…” to sound enticing.

    I hope people who know what you do are not a dying breed. (But now we’re back to my pessimism…)

  82. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    While we have been discussing English to be taught as the national language and “…shoes and ships and sealing wax,” according to this very alarming article Mosques here in the U.S.have been recruiting black children from the ghetto, and teaching them to hate the Infidel, and to aspire to be a “solider of Allah” and a martyr, see this disturbing story at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/03/the_neighborhood_mosque.html ) .

    I wonder just how many such recruitment campaigns are underway and have been underway, and for how long? Meanwhile, of course, that clueless dolt Janet Nepolitano continues to tell us that things are just peach keen.

  83. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Make that”peachy keen.”

  84. T Says:

    Wolla Dalbo,

    That is why it is so important to change the national Dialogue away from this anti-western Euroweenie direction that the left has established.

    By the way, in your post above re: Roman steamroller v Obama Wienermobile were you, perhaps referring to the Euroweenie mobile?

  85. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Kolnai–when I checked perhaps fifteen years ago, there was one old gentleman I found information on who had a studio in in New York city who did rubrication, and produced parchments for special occasions in the ancient manner. Perhaps he had apprentices who are still working today.

    The College of Arms in London might also be a good place to check with.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

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